The Senior C team was successful beyond all expectations in winning medals at the IDBF club crew world championships this past week. This is different for me; hoping to win and winning anything beyond a participation medal has been off my to-do list and way off the radar screen for a long long time.
This team has been different. They have a keen desire to win that has driven them for months if not years. They have paddled with their own team, they have shown up at special camps, they have endured and shone at tryout camps, they have made the cut at the final tryout in early May.
That was just the start; through May, June, July and August, most have devoted themselves to increased training. To be chosen is to be asked to do more not less. Constant trips to the gym, extra paddling sessions in outrigger canoes. A few, like my friend Helen, hired a personal trainer over and above all that. Several travelled from the Okanagan, Langley and Victoria to attend training sessions at a significant cost in time and money.
They were driven to achieve, and they put in the time and energy to do it. Sports performance has a certain equilibrium; it gives back exactly what you put in. It also rewards persistence over raw talent more often than we might think.
This was not confined to those of us over 60 at least most of in that age class are at least semi-retired or retired. We have the time. My senior B group had to do all this while working at a full time job. And they did. Summer is not the best time to schedule Saturday afternoon practices, yet everyone showed up. Many curtailed family vacations to fit around practice schedules. I don’t know how the younger paddlers are able to fit everything in. One of our elite women’s team members has two small children. The mind boggles at her schedule.
Yet, achieve they did. Our Senior B women’s team were out of the medals but finished strong and were sixth overall. They deserved more but were in a tough flight. Our senior B mixed team – well, we came together late, we dug hard, we had fun and we learned a lot.
The Senior C team shone brightly. The Open team won a silver in 2000 and a bronze in 500. The mixed team won a gold in the 2000 and a bronze in the 500.
The stars of the show were the senior C women – three gold medals in the three races categories. It doesn’t get better than that. Out of a total of 9 possible medals available to be won, the Senior C team managed to win seven.
There is little one can say that matches the looks on the faces of team members when they arrive back at the dock after a really good race.
“The boat just lifted!”,
“Did you feel how it surged!”,
“We were one with the boat!”
“Did you feel the glide!”
In most cases, what happens after that, the posted times, the medal ceremonies and the high-fives are icing on the cake. In one of the ceremonies, all three medals had been won by Canadian women’s teams. While just minutes before, each had been desperate to win, at the end of the ceremony they all gathered to sing Oh Canada together. Memorable…. of course.
Me, I’m going to put my paddle away for a while and enjoy Italy. I need a break. It takes too much energy at my age to be a kid again for very long.